Over at Lowe’s, they just put up a sales page for the new Craftsman HPP Pliers Wrench.
The “Pliers Wrench” is an interesting and extremely useful type of tool, usually featuring parallel jaws and a compound leverage mechanism with high force multiplier.
So far, I have only seen the Craftsman Pliers Wrench in a 10-inch size, model CMHT82250, which is said to have a maximum jaw capacity of 2.3 inches.
Like most other Pliers Wrench-types of tools, the new Craftsman has a button-activated adjustment mechanism.
Craftsman says that the smooth and parallel opening jaw provides for “damage-free operation.”
*Pre-launch pricing, subject to change.
First off, let’s talk about the Knipex Pliers Wrench.
The Knipex Pliers Wrench is the most iconic tool of this design, having been invented by the company in 1994. While not inexpensive, the Knipex Pliers Wrench is an exceptionally useful tool for all kinds of fastening, squeezing, and part manipulating tasks.
An increasing number of tool brands have been releasing new Pliers Wrench tools of their own.
As you are probably aware, Craftsman is now owned by Stanley Black & Decker. This new offering is not Stanley Black & Decker’s first Pliers Wrench design.
Stanley Black & Decker released an Irwin Vise-Grip Pliers Wrench in 2019. Not to mince words, I didn’t like it. The handles were decent and the adjustment mechanism trouble-free, but I couldn’t use the tool in the same way as my Knipex Pliers Wrenches.
Pliers Wrenches can be used to turn fasteners with a sort of ratcheting-type of mechanism of sorts. After adjusting the pliers, you could squeeze the handles to turn a 6pt hex fastener, and then release pressure to have the jaws open just enough to clear the corners. In such a way, you could squeeze to turn and then relax to open and reverse, and it made for quicker work than using a traditional adjustable wrench. Most times, the fasteners would be left in perfect condition.
Irwin’s Vise-Grip pliers couldn’t do this – their adjustment mechanism was not well-tuned and fastener corners couldn’t clear the jaw opening width. I was majorly disappointed, but I also accepted that this was Irwin’s first attempt at such a design.
About one year ago, Stanley Black & Decker launched new Lenox Pliers Wrenches, seemingly designed for plumbing applications. The Lenox Pliers Wrench had deeper jaws and opened wider than other designs, and is sized for pipe fittings rather than fasteners.
Unsurprisingly, the Lenox pivot and adjustment design resembles Irwin’s.
Stanley Black & Decker went with a new design for their Craftsman Pliers Wrench, featuring Knipex-like grooves for the sliding lower jaw. The Craftsman pliers’ “ratchet-lock system” looks to be similar to that of their other versions, with grooves positioned on the back side of the tool.
I don’t trust the pre-launch price tag of $54.98 – I’d say this is unrealistically high for a Craftsman tool of the pictured design. At the time of this posting, the black-finish Knipex Wrench is just $2 more at Amazon, the chrome version is ~$6 more, and the cushion grip model is ~$7.50 more.
The Craftsman pliers look to have potential, if they work well (or at least better than Irwin’s) and if their eventual retail price is quite a bit lower.
If you spotted the “V” marking on the handles, that suggests these pliers will be part of Craftsman’s new V-Series hand tool family. I would also guess that the HPP part of the pliers’ official product name (Craftsman HPP 10″ Plier Wrench) stands for high performance (or power) pliers, which could suggest that we might see other sizes in the future.